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When & How to Prune Burning Bush: 4 Expert Tips

burning bush

Burning Bush gets its name from the beautiful, bold colors in the later months, making it an absolute all-time favorite. When it comes to adding color to your landscape as the season starts to change, the burning bush provides a bold, fiery appearance that will captivate your attention.

Burning bush is selected for various reasons, but it is mainly used for ornamental purposes. Sometimes, people can use it as a border, landscape addition, or barrier due to its size and growing nature.

If you are wondering how to prune the burning bushes in your area, luckily, it’s easier than you might think. We are going to break it down step by step.

garden flower divider

Tools Needed

Tools Needed:
  • Pruning saw
  • Pruning shears
pruning tools
Image Credit: JustinVa, Shutterstock

The 4 Tips on Pruning a Burning Bush

1. Choose the Correct Time of Year to Prune Your Burning Bush

Like every plant in your setup, the burning bush has specific times of the year that are best for pruning. Before any growth develops, you should consider pruning your burning bush in late winter or early spring.

When pruning, gardeners usually have two goals: to either reshape or promote fresh growth development. The entire concept of pruning is to make a more favorable plant both aesthetically and practically.

Pruning before any new growth develops each year will promote healthy new growth to emerge when the weather warms.

pruning shears with green handles on top of log
Image Credit: CarlottaSilvestrini, Pixabay

2. Remove Dead, Diseased, or Damaged Sections of Your Burning Bush

In cold months, it might be hard to tell what part of the plant is dead. That is why it is essential to take note of its growth every season to make sure you know if there are any unhealthy parts. So, keep a lookout for any sections that meet the criteria.

It’s best to clip the dead wood close to the main branch. If you do so, it should create a healthy new bud in its place once the plant starts to blossom for the year. If the bush continues to undergo damage in the upcoming year, look for other ways to eliminate potential diseases and bugs causing your bush to decline in health.

You don’t have to worry about this part if you don’t notice any dead or obviously diseased branches. You can simply shape or rejuvenate your bush, as explained below.

3. Shape Your Burning Bush

You have full control over the shape of your bushes. If you are growing a burning bush, you have likely already established your plant. If it is growing alongside other perennials where you plan to place any new annuals around your bushes this spring, you should prune accordingly.

If you’re simply looking to shape, you can complete this pruning in the summertime. But all routine pruning should be done in the winter or early spring before growth begins. It would be best if you always cut at a 45-degree angle to allow water to run off efficiently.

To start the shaping process, you should take your pruning saw or pruning shears and cut the new canes 1/3 of the way down around the base of the bush.

red full burning bush
Image Credit: poupine, Shutterstock

4. Rejuvenate Your Burning Bush

Sometimes, our plants can get out of control. You have a certain species of mint overgrowing over here and hostas getting out of control over there. The same can happen with your burning bush. If you go a long period without pruning, it can cause uneven and unpleasing growth.

To rejuvenate the entire plant, you severely cut back the branches so it can produce all new growth this upcoming spring.

It would help if you took a pair of shears and cut the entire bush down until it stands one to three inches off of the ground. While this may seem like complete overkill, it will encourage the plant to produce all new foliage.

It might terrify you when you hear how much of the burning bush you have to cut down. But as your burning bush develops over the spring and summer, it will start to develop new, manageable growth slowly. You can try to get into the routine of pruning your burning bushes annually after that.

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Why Should You Prune Your Burning Bushes?

Sometimes you can get by without pruning for a season or two. But burning bushes are notorious for outgrowing their space quickly. Even though they are slow to moderate growers, they tend to take over the space quite effectively.

To keep this growth under control, you should prune these bushes every year. The longer you leave your burning bush growing at its own leisurely pace, it can start to get scraggly, leggy, and unkempt.

To keep aesthetically pleasing, full-bodied bushes, pruning is the key to success—along with other excellent caretaking, of course.

The manner in which you prune your bushes depends greatly on the outcome you want to achieve. You can easily shape these bushes to look however you please and cut them down to a few inches when you’re ready to regrow and let the shrub flourish once again.

Burning Bush red plant
Image Credit: Oleksandr Savchuk, Shutterstock

Cuts Matter

It’s important not to just go hacking away at your bushes and expecting good results. You will always want to prune them according to their specific needs. Burning bushes can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases, making this pruning a little bit different from just regular maintenance.

Burning bushes are generally very easygoing when it comes to pruning, but you can damage the plant if you rip, tear, or cut the plant incorrectly. It is imperative to use shears specifically designed for pruning to make a clean cut.

garden flower divider Conclusion

Once you finish pruning your burning bushes in the winter or early spring, you can guarantee you will notice more lustrous growth in the upcoming year. Burning bushes will continue to give you stunning color variety throughout your garden space all autumn long.

You can enjoy these shrubs for years to come with proper care. And luckily for novice growers, burning bushes are almost impossible to kill. If you have to cut it down to a nub to get it to grow back stronger, it’s entirely possible.

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